Bustos v. Global P.E.T., Inc., 19 Cal. App. 5th 558 (2017)

William Bustos sued his former employer for disability discrimination. A jury determined that Bustos’ actual or perceived physical condition was a substantial motivating reason for his termination, but nevertheless returned defense verdicts on all of his claims. After the trial, Bustos sought an award of his attorney’s fees under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). The trial court denied the motion for attorney’s fees, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that because Bustos had obtained no relief at trial (either monetary or equitable), he did not “realize his litigation objectives.” See also Arave v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 18 Cal. App. 5th 1098 (2018) (employer may only recover attorney’s fees for prevailing on employee’s wage and FEHA claims if they were “frivolous” – though ordinary costs and expert fees may be recoverable under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 998 on unsuccessful wage claim); Burkhalter Kessler Clement & George LLP v. Hamilton, 19 Cal. App. 5th 38 (2018) (managing partner who was prevailing party on plaintiff’s alter ego claim may recover fees under reciprocal contractual attorney fee statute); Terris v. County of Santa Barbara, 2018 WL 915128 (Cal. Ct. App. 2018) (costs may not be awarded against unsuccessful FEHA plaintiff unless the claim was frivolous).